In its most concrete comments yet about the next version of Windows, Microsoft said in a blog post on its Dutch Web site that Windows 8 is about two years from hitting the market.
Microsoft is working on the next version of Windows, the blog says in Dutch, but it will be about two years before Windows 8 is on the market.
The comments, noted earlier Sunday by Winrumors.com, came at the end of a post celebrating Windows 7's first birthday. Microsoft also posted about that milestone on its U.S. Web site this week but made no mention of the timing of Windows 8.
A Microsoft representative, reached on Sunday morning, declined to comment or elaborate on the blog posting.
Indeed, Microsoft executives from Windows unit President Steven Sinofsky on down have been hesitant to say anything about the company's future Windows plans. While the desktop team has been quiet, Microsoft's server team did say last year that a major release of Windows Server was due in 2012 and server versions typically slightly lag a desktop release.
A presentation leaked in June suggests that the next version of Windows will include, among other things, an app store similar to ones offered by Apple and other mobile device makers. Apple announced this week that it will bring an app store to the Mac within 90 days.
The presentation also said that Microsoft wanted to improve startup times and the time it takes to resume from sleep, improve power efficiency, as well as work more closely with computer makers to better differentiate their respective computers. While these are all needed things, it's going to be a very long two years for Microsoft if it can't better address Apple's moves in the tablet and notebook models before Windows 8.
Windows 7 was released in October 2009, two and a half years after the Windows Vista went on sale for most customers. Microsoft officials, including CEO Steve Ballmer, had promised that after Vista's many delays that the company would never again go so long between Windows releases.
The company has not said much about Windows 8, but if it is indeed two years out, that would make three years between releases. Ballmer did say this week at a Gartner symposium that the next version of Windows represents the company's "riskiest bet."
Update, 1:25 a.m. PT, Oct. 25: Unsurprisingly, Microsoft has now changed the Dutch site, removing all reference to Windows 8 and instead talking about the first service pack to Windows 7 as well as the recently released Windows Live Essentials update (see image below).
My year of study in the Netherlands tells me (and a reader tip and Google translate both verify) that Microsoft is saying that Windows 7 SP1 is now in testing and will be released in the first half of next year, while the first update to Windows 7 is the new version of Windows Live Essentials released in June.
And you don't have to speak Dutch to know that there were some less than happy e-mails from Redmond to the Netherlands sent on Sunday. (Thanks to German journalist Achim Sawall who alerted me to the update.)